By: George R. R. Martin
807 pages (Paperback)
Direwolves and dragons…Winter is coming...
A Game of Thrones is so much more than the medieval drudgery I was expecting. There are so many wonderfully subtle things that make the world in this story fantastical, rather than the usual quasi-medieval castles and swords and warfare. There are spooky things in the woods far to the north (something like frozen zombies), seasons that last decades, direwolves, dragons, remnants of ancient peoples, trees with carved faces, and so many other touches of magic and mystery that make the world so much more interesting.
There are interesting landscapes like the endless winter of Winterfell, huge ancient trees, ruins, and endless plains with grasses of different colors. What is even better is that the author doesn’t over-describe them. He doesn’t spend paragraphs describing every detail, he slips the descriptions in-between everything else that’s going on, so you can appreciate the surroundings without it dragging the story down.
Magical wonder aside, the world is realistically harsh, as you would expect of a historical, medieval time. There is plenty of plotting, scheming, death and suffering, but it isn’t completely unbalanced. I thought it would just be depressing, but there is enough hope here and there to carry the reader through.
The characters are diverse and not at all cliché. Each one offers their own perspective on the events and circumstances that surround them. I have four favorites. Tyrion Lannister, the imp as they call him, is so smart and witty and sees things for what they are. I love his honesty and mental strength. There is something endearing about Jon Snow. He doesn’t really belong anywhere, being a bastard, but he has an awesome Direwolf, so that helps. I like his personality. He seems honest somehow, I’m not sure how else to describe him. Daenerys is impressive in how she finds a weird kind of freedom despite effectively being sold to the Dothraki. Last but not least, Arya Stark’s tomboy qualities are in such contrast to her sister’s girlish ways. Her toughness makes her all the more loveable. Of course all of this could change in future volumes.
For a long book it didn’t feel quite so long. Short chapters were a huge help, and moving from one character’s point of view to another kept things interesting. I liked it a lot more than I thought I would, and I will definitely be continuing the series. For now though, I think I’ll watch season 1 of the TV series and see how well they did. Until next time…